PHNOM PENH — Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) on Monday hailed the prospect of multi-party democracy with the registration of 20 parties for a July general election that the main opposition party has been prevented from contesting.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 33 years, has waged a campaign against his critics, including the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which won the support of a new generation of voters disillusioned at what they see as the corruption and nepotism that have stalked politics.
But in November, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP and banned more than 100 of its politicians, after the government accused it of plotting to take power with the help of the United States.
Members of the opposition have called for a boycott of the July 29 vote but preparations are going ahead, with party registration ending on Monday.
“Now, we have 20 political parties registered, this shows a multi-party democracy,” NEC spokesman Dim Sovannarom told a news briefing.
“This is an opportunity for people, in every five years, to chose their leaders,” he added.
The NEC would take a week to consider the party registration applications, he said.
Analysts say that with the dissolution of the CNRP, Hun Sen will easily take the July vote.
“The strategy of decapitating and finally dissolving the opposition was designed to ensure a landslide victory for the ruling party,” Cambodia-based political analyst Lao Mong Hay told Reuters.